More than six months ago when Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast, it was considered to be among the five most destructive storms in US history. Sandy affected residents and businesses in numerous states, including 10 states serviced by United Water. An estimated eight million people in those states lost electrical power, including those in New Jersey, where we serve nearly 1.6 million people.
As we look back at our experiences during emergencies such as Sandy, we recognize that detailed emergency planning and preparedness is key in ensuring uninterrupted critical water services to our customers. Despite the magnitude of the storm, our employees worked around-the-clock and made sure we were well prepared to respond in the face of Sandy.
During our emergency planning preparations, we maintained close dialogue and worked with state, county and municipal emergency personnel. In addition to being in continuous contact, one of the key elements of our emergency preparedness was the decision to place backup generators on-site days before Sandy made landfall. The use of generators played a crucial role in our crisis response plan and helped us ensure continuity of services to about 98 percent of our 3.7 million customers in the destructive path of Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent nor’easter a few weeks later.
As a part of our ongoing crisis preparation, we have set up a full time crisis command center at our office in Boise, ID, which also served as our command center during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The command center is staffed with our team of experts, all with considerable experience in coordinating and supporting response efforts during emergencies like Hurricane Sandy.
Recently, we collaborated with the National Association of Water Companies and other member companies to develop a new webinar that highlights the extraordinary attention water companies give to emergency preparedness. The webinar features panelists from United Water and other leading water companies who share their experiences prior, during and following Hurricane Sandy. According to NAWC, the Webinar is designed to help private and public systems of all sizes and types further their preparedness efforts.*
*Source: National Association of Water Companies